All fiction must have at least one or two scenes that are confrontational. In fact, the climax in a story deals with these types of confrontations, whether they are external or internal. But to write a compelling confrontational scene requires understanding the dynamics of the story, characters, and plot. A good confrontational scene should offer readers a glimpse into the character’s psyche, his wants and needs, and so on, but it should also raise the stakes in the plot, and move it further toward the story’s denouement. Writing a great confrontational scene requires breaking down what actually happens in the scene and building upon the tension over what the main character wants and the obstacles which prevent her from getting it.
Decide what will happen in the scene. The main character should want to get or achieve something. This should be important enough for the character to become confrontational, like saving a town from a terrorist attack or finding the location of a sunken treasure.
Create a credible antagonist in the scene. An antagonist can be everything from another character, an object, such as a locked door, an animal, or a natural disaster, like a hurricane. An antagonist can also be a character who disagrees or refuses to conform to the main character’s wishes, such as a husband who refuses to tell his wife what is bothering him. The antagonist should be credible, meaning that he or it will be a formidable opponent to the protagonist.
Create a situation in which the antagonist denies the main character’s ability to pursue what he wants. For instance, a character might want to surprise his girlfriend by climbing into her bedroom window but is confronted by the family’s snarling Rottweiler in the back yard instead.
Build the tension between the protagonist and the antagonist. As the main character tries to pursue what he wants, the antagonist should prevent him from doing so. For instance, the wife who wants her husband to talk to her might become more frustrated as her husband deflects her questions. The tension should rise out of that frustration.
Heighten the stakes in the confrontation. As the tension builds, create another situation that will create more tension. For instance, the wife in her confrontation with her husband might reveal a secret about her past that antagonizes her husband even further. The barking dog in the yard might awaken the girlfriend’s father, who shows up at the door with a shotgun.
Resolve the tension in the story. This can happen by either having the main character one-up his antagonist or by having the main protagonist end up losing in the confrontation. The wife might end up chasing her husband away with her revelation and the amorous intruder might end up being chased away by either the dog or the shotgun-wielding dad. Or either character could end up precisely what she wants. How the confrontational scene will end depends on what works best for the story and the characters involved.